Release 06-33      

December 5, 2006


Jerry Martin
Gennet Paauwe
(916) 322-2990

National Fuel Cell Research Center
Kathy Haq
(949) 824-1999, Ext. 118
Another First for California: Fuel Cell to Light Holiday Tree at State Capitol

SACRAMENTO -- In a ceremony today at the California State Capitol, Governor Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver will light the nation's first official State holiday tree display powered by a fuel cell. The 6,500 light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs on the tree will be powered by a clean, reliable fuel cell system.

California Air Resources Board Chairman and Stationary Fuel Cell Collaborative Co-Chair, Dr. Robert F. Sawyer said, "California has always been a leader in innovative clean air technologies. Providing clean, alternative energy for this holiday celebration underscores the viability of fuel cell technology in a variety of applications."

The LED bulbs used on the State holiday tree consume 98 percent less electricity than traditional decoration lights. The tree is lit by an electricity-generating hydrogen fuel cell system, manufactured in California by Altergy Systems, based in Folsom, California. Last year, the holiday display at the California Environmental Protection Agency successfully used the same fuel cell system to light redwood trees in the building's courtyard.

Fuel cells are highly efficient - two to three times more efficient than internal combustion engines - and emit no toxics, only pure water. Fuel cell systems are also quiet, reliable and simple to operate, with few moving parts. These systems can be used in a variety of commercial and residential applications and offer off-the-grid, decentralized power.

Fuel cell power, along with other alternative energy sources, will help California meet Governor Schwarzenegger's greenhouse gas emission reduction target of 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. Further, in September, Governor Schwarzenegger signed the landmark California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, establishing a first-in-the-world comprehensive program of regulatory and market mechanisms to achieve real, quantifiable, cost-effective reductions of greenhouse gases.

"Fuel cell-generated power is a viable alternative to traditional power sources," stated Eric Mettler, President and CEO of Altergy Systems. "The State of California and the Cal/EPA are leading the way toward changing the way the world gets its power. We at Altergy are pleased to join with Cal/EPA and the Governor and First Lady to increase awareness of fuel cells through this year's lighting of the State Christmas Tree."

The California Stationary Fuel Cell Collaborative is a joint initiative of federal, state and nongovernmental organizations to commercialize fuel cells for power generation in California. For more information, please visit

The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.

The energy challenge facing California is real. Every Californian needs to take immediate action to reduce energy consumption. For a list of simple ways you can reduce demand and cut your energy cost, see our website at